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An alternative plastic pick up

Dhruv Boruah is an outdoor enthusiast, campaigner and adventurer who has taken a different approach to tackling waterways pollution, which has attracted the attention of more than 25 million people around the world.

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As an ocean racer, rally driver, biker and trainee arctic explorer as well as a keen paddler, Dhruv is no stranger to the waterways. He has completed a range of challenges and over the years they opened his eyes to the problem of waterways pollution, from the source, inland waterways through to the ocean.

We spoke to him last year about the revolutionary way he started a campaign against plastic pollution cycling the Thames on the water on his custom made water bike!

He told us, “I am a paddler myself and love it.  When you go on a leisurely paddle you can find so much rubbish in the water and it’s hard to ignore.

“The idea came about because I saw a lot of pollution in the ocean whilst taking part in an Ocean Race. When I came back to London I wanted to demonstrate that everything starts inland here, the pollution in our canals ends up in the ocean.” Says Dhruv.

Dhruv wanted to attract wider attention to the issue, engaging not just regular users of the waterways. He explains why he decided to swap his conventional paddle for a floating bike, and cycle on the waterways.

“I got the idea to water cycle because I thought, ‘well I can cycle, why not cycle the length of the Thames’.

“Canoeing and kayaking is more expected and I wanted to start a conversation with people who would otherwise be unaware. The idea of a water bike was engaging so I contacted a company in Italy who sent me a kit to build one and I got started.

“Not everyone is interested in environmental issues, having the bike is more visual and engaging.”

So engaging in fact, that he has had requests from all over the world asking for advice on how to set up their own projects.

“So far my project has had over 25 million views and I am getting requests from around the world, places like Brazil, Bangkok and the Ivory Coast. The water bike is such a good conversation starter and people want to introduce this in their own countries, it’s a way of engaging the community back and getting them involved.”

Although he uses his water bike to attract attention, his kayak and paddle board are fundamental parts of his campaign and he works with organisations in London to encourage people to get involved. He believes that by picking up a paddle and picking up some plastic, you’re not only benefiting the environment, but well-being too.

“Although I have the water bike, I still paddle all the time. I use my kayak and paddle board for scouting missions along the water to see how accessible an area would be by bike. Paddling also has huge benefits for the environment and people's well-being.

“In London people are really busy, often spending up to 14 hours a day in front of a screen. I’d ask them when was the last time they saw a star and they can’t remember. The moment they are on the water everything becomes amazing and relaxing, people thank me for showing them parts of London they haven’t seen before.

“Plastic collection becomes like a game, it’s almost meditative and you feel good for doing something worthwhile.”

Click here to find out more about his work.

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